Background African American and Latina women in the United States suffer from sexually transmitted infections at higher rates than white women. It is particularly important to prevent HPV in these groups as they also suffer disproportionately from cervical cancer. From 2006, a prophylactic HPV vaccine has been approved for use in girls and women aged 9–26 years. However, public health focus has been on young girls and teens. There are limited options for young women over 19 years of age who have aged out of the Vaccines for Children entitlement program. The objectives of this study were to assess a sample of minority women who attend neighbourhood health centers to determine predictors of vaccination, and to assess for the presence of HPV infection in these women. Those without evidence of prior HPV infection may benefit from a prophylactic vaccine.
Methods Between April 2009 and April 2010, we enrolled a convenience sample of 100 African American and 100 Latina women who completed a computer-assisted personal interview. Participants were queried regarding: demographics, risk for sexually transmitted infections including drug or alcohol use, HPV vaccine willingness, knowledge, attitudes and beliefs, and vaccination status. Frequencies were calculated using SAS, version 9.2. Self-collected vaginal swab samples from 118 participants were tested for HPV using line probe assay.
Results Participants were poor with 113 (57%) having a household income of <$20 000; and at risk for HPV infection. One hundred twenty-one (61%) did not use condom at last sex. However, only 17/118 (14%) were positive for any HPV. Predictors of vaccination could not be determined because there was not sufficient outcome response variation. A vast majority 161 (80%) of participants had not received HPV vaccination, though a most 136 (68%) reported willingness.
Conclusions Three years after vaccine approval, the majority in a sample of vulnerable women had not been vaccinated despite their willingness. Public health campaigns have been successful at raising awareness and making vaccine acceptable, but may be less successful at providing the vaccine to vulnerable women. Strategies should focus on delivering vaccine to African American and Latina women in order to decrease cervical cancer disparities.